GLOUSTER — Unfortunately for the New Boston Tigers, one early error sent Monday’s Division IV softball sectional semifinal spiraling downward.
As a result, the young Tigers trailed the host Trimble Tomcats 7-0 after two innings —before falling further behind at 14-4 following three.
And, while New Boston battled as hard as it could —and posted a pair of four-run stanzas — the Tigers fell in six innings to Trimble, by a count of 18-8 with the 10-run mercy-rule.
With the loss, the 18th-seeded Tigers fell to 2-15 —with Wednesday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I makeup matchup at Western remaining to be played.
The Tomcats, which scored at least one run in every at-bat and erupted for six runs on four hits in the second followed by seven counters on seven baseknocks in the third, raised their record to 5-12.
Trimble tallied single marks in the opening, fourth and ultimately closing innings, scoring their 18th run on their 18th hit —and combining that safety by Briana Osborne with her stolen base and fourth and final Tiger error with a Kennedy Kittle sacrifice fly to end it.
The dozen-lady Tigers, of which 11 were underclassmen aside from sole senior Shelby Easter, tried their best.
But according to head coach Brian Holbrook, Monday’s meeting at Trimble was a microcosm if one mistake did in fact happen early.
The Tomcats put the ball in play all day off New Boston pitcher Kenzie Whitley, but only half of her 18 runs allowed were earned.
Case in point was the Tomcats’ initial at-bat, when a ball off the bat of Kittle resulted in an infield error —which should have been a successful fielder’s choice for the second out.
Instead, Trimble took advantage and got one run across —with Emily Young scoring Adelynn Stevens on a sacrifice fly.
Another error on a would-be caught fly ball resulted into two more Tomcat tallies, opening the floodgates for 13 runs over the second and third frames —and only six of which were earned.
“We made an error in the first inning, they get a run off it, and then it spiraled,” said Holbrook.
The coach explained that missing last season because of the coronavirus threat certainly impacted this young Tiger team —as the 2020 unit actually originally had eight seniors.
“I am proud of every player I have on this team. They have done their best for me this year and gave me their best effort. That’s all you can ask out of young players. They were probably at an age 12 to junior high level on their development, and they were playing against a high school level,” said Holbrook. “The struggles with this young team was that with one error, they struggled to recover from that. And bat discipline was a struggle because we were underdeveloped with that as well. When we travel out of the comfort zone of the SOC I, we haven’t seen anybody, and the nerves are there. Unfortunately, the results of what we had today were there also.”
Orsborne tossed the first five frames for the Tomcats, as only half of her eight runs allowed were earned.
She did walk eight and hit four as she faced 32 Tiger batters, compared to the 40 Tomcats which Whitley saw.
The Tigers tallied only four hits, including a two-out first-inning single by Dylan O’ Rourke, but Easter who had walked with one out was tagged out at third on a relay throw from the outfield.
With two outs in the second on two of her three strikeouts, Orsborne loaded the New Boston bases by hitting one and walking two more, but she induced her counterpart Whitley to ground out to first to leave those Tigers stranded.
The Tigers sliced the deficit to 7-4 in the third on a combination of two walks, two unsuccessful fielder’s choices, Trimble’s only error and another hit batsman — but again Osborne escaped damage by leaving Tigers at first and second.
In the fifth, New Boston avoided the mercy rule momentarily —as Osborne walked three and bounce-ball hit two more, as Cassie Williams batted twice in the inning and singled her first time up.
Whitley with an RBI-single and Jadelyn Lawson with a two-run single to left field kept the game going at 15-8.
But again, as Orsborne ended her day by inducing Williams into a groundout right back to her, she stranded the Tigers with the bases loaded.
She retired the Tigers 1-2-3 in the fourth, as Ashlynn Hardy did the exact same thing with two strikeouts in the sixth.
“We didn’t hit the ball until about the fifth inning,” said Holbrook. “We had a lot of walks.”
This year, the only Tiger 12th grader was Easter, who is a natural and quality first baseman — but who played out of position most games.
“Shelby has been with me all of her high school softball career. She is a worker and fighter who has a lot on her plate. She is an excellent kid who has played out of position probably 90-percent of our games this year, just because we didn’t have the experience elsewhere,” said Holbrook. “She filled in all the gaps for us, and I appreciate all she has done for me.”
Meanwhile, Whitley threw strikes that the Tomcats turned into contact and basehits, as she missed an entire high school season of development.
“Kenzie has been my go-to pitcher all year, but she has not thrown since she was a freshman and now she is completing her junior season,” said Holbrook.
And, with a coronavirus quarantine at the outset of this season squeezing the schedule, there was unfortunately little-to-no actual teaching time or practice.
The Tigers’ first five games and 14 days “were shot down”, the coach stated.
“With the push that we had with the schedule caused by COVID, the effort the girls gave was fantastic. The sad part was we weren’t able to take the time to stand out on the field and develop and work more than what we could have,” said Holbrook.
But now, with 11 players possibly returning, and hopefully with a normal offseason, Holbrook hopes that the 2022 Tigers will be vastly improved — in both development and in the win column.
“Looking forward to seeing them back and seeing what they can give us with a year of varsity experience under their belt,” he said. “Hopefully, that will be a lot more wins and a lot more determination to play softball.”
The 15th-seeded Tomcats will face another Scioto County club on Thursday —when they play at second-seeded Clay for a Division IV sectional championship.
First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
* * *
New Boston 004 040 —8 4 4
Trimble 167 121 —18 18 1
GHS: Kenzie Whitley 6IP, 18R, 9ER, 18H, 0HB, 3B, 2K, 40BF
THS: Brianna Orsborne 5IP, 8R, 4ER, 4H, 4HB, 8BB, 3K, 32BF; Ashlynn Hardy 1IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 0HB, 0BB, 2K, 3BF
W — Brianna Orsborne; L —Kenzie Whitley
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved